Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some Days You Get the Bear...

...And some days the bear gets you.

I'm an ideas guy. I find the easiest part of writing to be the ideas. Coming up with something to write about, a concept, is the simplest thing in the world to me. I have Word files filled with book ideas, story outlines, character thumbnails, you name it. Some of you have been privy to my ideas.

Not all of them are good, mind you, but they're ideas. When I'm asked where I get my ideas, I shamelessly swipe (and mangle) a Stephen King line and say I buy them from a guy in New Jersey.

To me, coming up with ideas is not creative; it's just entertainment for my soul. The actual creative part of writing, the craft if you will, is actually putting that first sentence down - or that first paragraph. (I'm one of those folks that believe that the most important element of story isn't the sentence, it's the paragraph.)

Many writers I know have the hardest time with the idea, but have no problem putting the word down. I'm the other way. Sometimes, the words simply fail me.

Like now. For a little more than three weeks now, I've had my version of writer's block. I have been unable to put two or more words together in any creative fashion. No matter how many times I've opened up a file to work on it, I've simply been unable to do so.

I suppose it's not true writer's block. I've had lots of folks offering help and advice - and all of it was appreciated, but the most common advice I received was to stop what I was doing and try another project. Every time I received this actually-quite-helpful piece of advice, I had to say, "I did. Didn't work."

Let's call it "creative block." It wasn't just writing I was unable to do, but certainly that was a big part of it. Chapter 3 of The Wyrd Magnet? Nope. Part 2 of Conduit? Not happening. I even froze up halfway through a long short-story that I've mentioned a few times, "Omega Man's Day Off." None of this had a word written in all this time.

But it was also editing. Heroes... Chapter 8 "The Shining Way" hasn't even been begun. I have looked at it dozens of times and was unable to even figure out how to begin rewriting/editing. Possibly even worse, I agreed to help our friend Brayden Potter look over his first chapter. I didn't have a clue what to do or say. I simply was unable to edit.

It goes without saying that blog writing was beyond me, too, doesn't it? Yes, I was still around, still here, and several times I opened a new blog entry and couldn't put anything down.

Until now. Until right now. I don't know if this is any good or not, and frankly I don't care. It's a bit of a dam-burst, and I'm happy that it's happened.

I'm going to be out of pocket for the next day or two. When I get back I'm going to find out whether or not the veil has lifted and writing is back on track. I hope so, but I just don't know. I'll let you know.

Or I won't. Another very long absence here might say it all.

On the other hand, I've got about 75 pages of notes and materials down for an apocalyptic werewolf story set around Seattle, Vancouver, and the San Juan Islands.

Hmm...maybe I could be that guy in New Jersey. Anybody need some ideas?


  1. Glad to hear it, and yes I was trying to get a rise out of you the other day when I was passing things to you through my wife. Figured I could annoy you into something. Kind of my opposite adoration of your majestic splendor.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. I'm an ideas person, too. After carrying around my 'epic' in my head for over 20 years I started to put the damn thing down as a blog just to be clear out some room for, you know, real life. At the moment it's not about being good or even mediocre, it's about being.

  3. Maybe once it's out - or mostly out, it'll start to form up in a way that becomes quantifiable, not just being.

    After 20 years, I suspect it'll line up pretty quickly for you.